Representatives of Mennonite World Conference have began dialogues with representatives of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, beginning a process of reconciling differences between two movements that began in the 1500s in Zurich, Switzerland.
Four MWC representatives and three WCRC representatives began dialogues at Camp Squeah, B.C., for several days in March alongside MWC Executive Committee meetings.
Historically the Reformed movement had “lethal hostility toward Anabaptists over baptism, the nature of the church and the use of the state to further and enforce the Reformation,” said Thomas Yoder Neufeld, MWC Faith and Life Commission chair and a member of the dialogue group.
However, there are many ways “in which our paths of commitment have converged,” he said. “Our dialogue becomes not a relitigating of the past . . . but a shared sense of the need to live into the unity Christ has created among often still estranged and even hostile members of the body of Christ.”
The dialogue group will work on a statement that includes remembering a shared past, confession and commitment to living into unity in Christ. The 500th anniversary of Anabaptism in Zurich in 2025 forms the immediate focus of these efforts.
“We are grateful to see sharp disagreements of the past make way for mutual learning and encouragement in living out a gospel witness in our complementary traditions today,” said César García, MWC general secretary. “It will be a blessing to mark this 500th anniversary in Zurich amid this reconciling spirit of dialogue with the Reformed church.”
There is a potential for dialogue to continue beyond 2025 with a focus on how Mennonite commitments to peace and the Reformed commitment to justice can find expression in shared work and witness.